Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed that learning how to code is more important for students than picking up a second language. Cook made the statement to French media outlet Konbini during a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.
"If I were a French student and I were 10 years old, I think it would be more important for me to learn coding than English. I'm not telling people not to learn English in some form — but I think you understand what I am saying is that this is a language that you can [use to] express yourself to 7 billion people in the world," Cook said in the interview with Konbini.
Sure, that statement might be easy for the CEO of a massive tech company to say so nonchalantly. However, Cook's words have truth to them, especially when considering job trends and salaries. Job searching website Glassdoor recently put out a report supporting Cook's suggestions. The report noted that one-third of the highest-paying jobs on the website required elements of programming.
Cook noted that the benefits are more than higher wages, however.
"It's the language that everyone needs, and not just for the computer scientists. It's for all of us," Cook said.
"Creativity is the goal. Coding is just to allow that. Creativity is in the front seat; technology is in the backseat. It is sort of the blend with both of these that you can do such powerful things now."
A trend within the United States and other nations is that coding doesn't supersede learning another language; it is a second language.
"I think the opportunity to give people a choice [is important]," said Florida state Sen. Jeremy Ring. Ring introduced a bill giving Florida students the choice between foreign language and coding classes for the purpose of university admissions requirements. "I think if you're just going to give two years [of language] in high school, you might as well do computer coding, because I think it'll take them further than two years of foreign language will."
And, according to U.S. News and World Reports, foreign language interests have been declining as interests in STEM fields have been growing.
However, not everyone is on board with the idea. Several U.S. senators agree with foreign language educators that students shouldn't have to pick between classes. They should be required to take both. Srini Mandyam is CTO and co-founder of a children's coding course. He said forcing kids to pick is unproductive.
"Many students don't fare well with algebra but we never discuss eliminating it or … say chemistry is now counted as an algebra class," he said via email to U.S. News. "We teach algebra because it's important and we should teach foreign language and coding for the same reason. Exposure to a wide breadth of subjects and material results in well-rounded students who are able to make informed decisions … about what they want to pursue."
Foreign language itself has many benefits to learning. Bilingualism often leads to higher cognitive development, memory, problem-solving, and overall intelligence. Many officials in both government and business say that being monolingual in expanding economies is useless even with 'standard busienss languages.'